The practice occurs when someone tries to get money or property by using threats or by accusing the victim of committing a crime, or threatening to reveal some damaging information about the duped individual.
In its most plain definition, extortion is the procurement of possessions from another, with his/her consent, persuaded by the unlawful use of threatened force, violence or fear.
It is sometimes obliquely referred to as a ‘protection racket’ since the racketeers often verbalize their demands as payment for ‘protection’ from real or hypothetical threats from indeterminate other parties.
In its strict definition, extortion means the infliction of something such as pain and suffering or making somebody endure something unpleasant.
It is also common practice of extortionists to issue threats including the filing of reports, true or not, to the police.
But what most extortionists fail to see is that such crimes are often met with severe consequences.
Sometimes victims are tricked into paying huge sums of money to extortionists in exchange for deific favours or a typical services.
Take the case of residents of Kalundu area, in Lusaka West, who have accused a witchdoctor, only identified as “Sibweni” of using the recent murder of 13-year-old girl, Faustina Mwila, in the area to extort money from them.
The people complained that ‘Sibweni’ made them wash their faces with charms, and forced them to contribute money prior to the girl’s burial, with a promise that they would “see” who the murderer was at the graveyard but to no avail.
As almost expected, nothing happened when the people went to the graveyard and the witchdoctor later vanished. He has not been seen to date.
Sibweni was reportedly invited to the area by the former area chairman, a Mr Mtonga, whom the people are now unhappy with for making them lose an undisclosed amount of money.
The people in the area reportedly agreed to subscribe to a witchdoctor after efforts to get the police help to track the girl’s killer failed.
Faustina, a grade seven pupil at Isabela Primary School, was found murdered in the bush on June 6, after missing for 11 days.
An eye witness says what is disheartening is that, Sibweni, connived with Mr Mtonga, to take advantage of distressed people and con them of money.
They have been searching for Sibweni but have failed to track him and Mr Mtonga too has not been around to assist them in the matter.
“After lowering the coffin into the grave, Sibweni rinsed a knife, a machete, a whip, and some stones with some charms and then placed them on top of the coffin. We were told that this was done to ensure that whoever killed the girl “follows her soon,” said one resident.
“We were not shown any murderer at the grave yard as promised. We have just heard rumours about some two men being discovered dead, one in his house and the other one found tied to a tree with a wire, though there has been no proof,” he said.
From the above, it is clear that Sibweni took the affected people for a regimented trickery to extort money from them.
We can only advise the victims of Sibweni to quickly report him to police for action and also to avoid falling in to the same trap in the near future by being fully alert to conmen.